Interview

David Benioff and Dan Weiss tease Sunday’s big episode, and detail the challenges of filming the battle

jonsnow

This week’s new episode of Game of Thrones is going to take place completely at The Wall, with Castle Black going to battle against Mance Rayder’s Wildling army, and from what we’ve heard so far, it’s going to be big. Given the largest budget of any episode thus far, we’re in for a lot of action, and some “magnificent” sets and visual effects.

In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss discuss the challenges of filming such a unique episode, and drop some details on what we can expect to see on Sunday night.

So for episode 9, what’s uniquely challenging about this battle compared to previous ones you’ve staged?
Benioff:
Well it’s at The Wall. Which is tricky. Because there is no Wall.
Weiss: Just the general visual effects integration of this episode.
Benioff: Giants. Giants are tricky. Having Neil Marshall directing it, you have confidence; like going to a really good doctor who’s going to make everything better. Neil is very soft spoken, but he’s the kind of guy when he’s on the set everyone is calm because he knows exactly what he’s doing. It’s a very intense episode, more intense than Blackwater. We’re seeing it now, even before visual effects have gone in, and it’s still magnificent.
Weiss: With Blackwater when we got the episode in, so much of it was visual effects dependent we were kind of unsure — the performances were fantastic and the action was great, but we weren’t entirely sure what we had until the pieces were put together. But with this, even Neil’s first director’s cut that we saw without a single frame of visual effects finished, just something about it really grabbed us by the neck that’s very rare even with the great directors we’re fortunate to work with.
Benioff: In terms of the sets, our new production designer Deborah Riley did this magnificent top-of-The Wall set, far bigger than what we had before, so you can do walk-and-talks, you can have massive action sequences. It’s completely surrounded by green screen, which is apparently the biggest green screen in Europe.
Weiss: Neil and Deb both spent a lot of time watching the Kubrick film Paths of Glory to get a sense of how to apply trench warfare set-building to an icy top-of-The Wall environment. She did a really fantastic job. It has to be the biggest Styrofoam piece in existence.

What was the biggest challenge to shooting the episode?
Benioff:
I wouldn’t say it’s wall-to-wall action — because it doesn’t start right away — but once it gets going about 15 minutes into the episode it doesn’t stop. And we’re still on a TV budget. So the amount of action beats Neil had to shoot every day with a limited number of takes with the number of visual effects shots makes everything more complicated.
Weiss: With so much action, the more layered it gets, and then the easier it is to stop making any sense and just show a lot of random guys hacking and beating away at each other. And Neil’s sense of what was happening in an extremely complicated environment is so strong.

David and Dan also discussed last week’s trial by combat, and Sansa’s transformation. Visit Entertainment Weekly for the full interview.

 


Can the Night's Watch defeat the Wildings? by winteriscoming

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87 Comments

  • This episode probably should have been episode 8 and the Mountain vs Viper episode 9. After last weeks episode people are going to be eager to see what happens next in King’s Landing. Still should be an awesome episode though.

  • Valyrian Plastic:
    Tormund!

    Thank you! :)

    If they say it is bigger than Blackwater… BRING IT ON.

    I have to say that for some odd reason, the eps this season seem much more separated than before by geography. Its not a complain just a thought. Very excited about the Wall battle.

  • I have never been that excited about an episode ! Monday 4 a.m. cant come soon enough !

  • Mammoths? Yep.

    Promo contains HUGE SPOILERS

    French promo (Youtube Link) shows an explosion and a mammoth running from the blast (around 46 seconds in)

  • So my friend just saw the Blackwater episode. Here’s our convo.

    Her: why do you like chp 9?
    Me: Episode 9 is the battle of Blackwater bay
    Her: Yea
    Me: It’s one of the best in the series. And it takes place all in one location.
    Me again: Great speech by Tyrion as well
    Her: They win
    Me: Really great performances all around
    Her: Yea I don’t like this episode

    For fu** sake lol

  • Ugh…I can see what the website maintenance was for. Anybody else get one of those really annoying pop up ads when trying to click on the link?

  • Top of the wall? Interesting… I wonder if they’ve somehow moved a bulk of the fighting up top. That *would* certainly be a lot more interesting than watching guys shoot arrows at a bunch of ants 700′ down below.

  • Ed,

    On the preview shot of the archers, it seems to me they are suspended from top of the Wall to aim at the wildlings below. I could be wrong cause the shot is very fast, but it would solve the height problem of the reaching distance of arrows shot from below.

  • Noooo, they’re not gonna kill Pypar off are they? Well, they have killed off people who are still alive in the books after all… D:

  • I think it’s weird to have a episode completely focus on one event after the end of the last episode. I’m looking forward to see this battle since the beginning of the season but I’m a bit disapointed because they did not built up enough the threat of the wildlings. They should added a few scenes to make this episode more appealing than the fate of Tyrion.

    I hope it will be as well as the blackwater.

  • Jakylla:
    I think it’s weird to have a episode completely focus on one event after the end of the last episode. I’m looking forward to see this battle since the beginning of the season but I’m a bit disapointed because they did not built up enough the threat of the wildlings. They should added a few scenes to make this episode more appealing than the fate of Tyrion.

    I hope it will be as well as the blackwater.

    The fuck??? I’m sure we have seen the Wildlings attack twice already and regroup at the beggining. What do you want? The Wildlings did not come to talk, they have one goal and that goal will be seen next episode. The builtup is enough. Actually more than enough since we have known the plan for a while

  • Turncloak,

    I’m sorry, Turncloak, but that is a dealbreaker…out the moon door with her! :)

    (I’ve already started my ep9 happy dance)

  • Tyrion Pimpslap:
    The season 4 soundtrack preview is out:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hd-RBTvLhI4

    ‘He Is Lost’ is interesting. I wonder which scene it will accompany? Or has it already aired?

    ‘The Children’ sounds like ‘Mhysa’.

    I am not listening to the tracks from the last two episodes (I want to remain musically unspoiled this year), but thank you so much for the link! I suspect the iTunes version will be out this coming week, and having the track titles will tide me over for now. :)

    Looks like lots of Ep. 9 music. :)

    But if you say The Children sounds like Mhysa, and the last track ends up leading into the end credits (per usual), then I fear we won’t get you know what for the final scene after all… :( That would NOT be cool.

  • Predictions:
    Ygritte will kill Pyp.
    Mag the Mighty and Grenn will kill each other.
    Jon will kill Styr.
    Tormund will kill Thorne, then get injured/taken prisoner.
    Guymon will kill Ygritte.

  • Troublesome Birdsong:
    Predictions:
    Ygritte will kill Pyp.
    Mag the Mighty and Grenn will kill each other.
    Jon will kill Styr.
    Tormund will kill Thorne, then get injured/taken prisoner.
    Guymon will kill Ygritte.

    Why are so sure Grenn will be killed? Have there been something leaked that supports this? I’ve read this many times now and I’m starting to worry it’s really going to happen.

  • *French promo trailer spoilers*

    Dunno about Grenn getting killed but I’m pretty damn sure Pyp is going to die via arrow in the neck. There’s a slim chance he may survive…although I’m not sure what purpose his character would serve if he did. Seems more logical that he’ll die.

  • Arkash,

    I think ‘Forgive Me’ and ‘He Is Lost’ could be in episode 9 as well. Also, ‘You Are No Son Of Mine’ is totally going to play during/after Tyrion shoots Tywin.

  • John M W,

    Yep sounds like the last scene in episode 10 is going to be the second yawn anti-climatic closing for two years in a row featuring Dany and her Children and you hear them crying out as the door is shut. What happened to the shocking bad ass closings they were doing for seasons one and two, why deviate and end with dull anti-climatic ones? I thought alternating climaxes with odd being fire and even being ice would be brilliant.

  • StrokemeMarg,

    Actually, I don’t agree with that assessment of Season 3’s finale.

    But we can at least agree that there is only one acceptable ending for this year. If they don’t go with it this year, I have to wonder if it will ever be in the show – or if they’re cutting it altogether (I can’t imagine this to be the case). But if you don’t do it now, when?

  • StrokemeMarg: Actually, I don’t agree with that assessment of Season 3′s finale.
    But we can at least agree that there is only one acceptable ending for this year. If they don’t go with it this year, I have to wonder if it will ever be in the show – or if they’re cutting it altogether (I can’t imagine this to be the case). But if you don’t do it now, when?
      

    I never seen you post anything positive. Also, it’s funny how you’re dissing something and assuming it will be like that when you haven’t even seen it yet.

  • bristol: I never seen you post anything positive. Also, it’s funny how you’re dissing something and assuming it will be like that when you haven’t even seen it yet.

    Are you responding to me? You posted my text, but are attributing it to StrokemeMarg.

    Because I tend to think of myself largely as a positive fellow. :)

    This is a rare instance of me being pessimistic.

  • StrokemeMarg:
    John M W,

    Yep sounds like the last scene in episode 10 is going to be the second yawn anti-climatic closing for two years in a row featuring Dany and her Children and you hear them crying out as the door is shut. What happened to the shocking bad ass closings they were doing for seasons one and two, why deviate and end with dull anti-climatic ones?

    Stop that crying and just wait. Obviously the list is not in order. Remember season 2 when Danny got her gold and the music played? That was not the ending but white walkers were. Sick of you cry babies on this site.

  • Well, I can see “The Children” track being the closing titles one, but there is a strong possibility that it starts way creepier before turning into the fragment we have in this preview.

  • bristol,

    I love GoT it is one the the greatest shows in television history. I just don’t like some aspects of the books, which I believe will not translate well in an adaption. Like the Kingsmoot subplot, or Breinne’s semi-boring journey, Dany’s stupidity in Dances. The latter was a 180 degree reversal from the Dany of Clash and Swords, from maturing, commanding Queen, to high school scatter brain who allowed Meerenese to manipulate her. Old Dany would roast them with her children. I just don’t want much of Dances Dany in the series that’s all, D&D can redo much of it and most book readers would be pleased. I love Dorne, Arianne and the Sand Snakes, and I believe casual viewers will fall in love with that arc, it’s perfectly set up for a network like HBO.

    I will make it a point to say good things about my favorite television show every week after it airs, good enough. But I reserve the right to be constructive with my opinions concerning aspects of the books I believe can be adapted well, kept virtually intact or removed; after all D&D cannot fit everything from the books, therefore they have to redo, trim, merge and remove large portions of Feast and Dances if the are to finish in eight seasons.

    To close, I have never ever trashed an episode of GoT, period, most of my flippant behavior is geared towards possible changes or retention from boks 4 and 5. Like Arianne being cut or D&D keeping most of Dany’s Dances scenes intact, which would turn viewers off to her story. I already have family saying Dany is beginning to fail as a leader and they are becoming disinterested. They wanted Dany to head for Westeros and when she decided to stay, they basically said fuck the bitch, we want her to roast Lannisters.

  • King Stannis,

    Cry baby, come on, you have to admit, the climax for seasons one and two were tens of total awesomeness, while three was yawn, average. I remember reading posts and critic reviews that were shocked on how anti-climatic the third season close was.

  • I think the track “The Children” doesn’t mean Dany’s children but the Children of the Forest. Listen to that child choir. It sounds like the main theme but the main theme is NOT Dany specific.

  • Jesus, idiot purists. It’s obvious what the last scene of Season 4 will be. Seriously, it’s fucking obvious.

  • Andrew:
    Jesus, idiot purists. It’s obvious what the last scene of Season 4 will be. Seriously, it’s fucking obvious.

    Dont break my StoneCold Steve Austin heart!

  • Andrew:
    Jesus, idiot purists. It’s obvious what the last scene of Season 4 will be. Seriously, it’s fucking obvious.

    Since when does wanting a certain ending for the season = purist? Because I could not possibly be anything further from that. To call me a purist if probably the funniest thing I could ever imagine.

  • Raventree Hall,

    Good point and I will be cool with that closing, even would look forward to it.

    To please some here I will say the last two episodes are ten’s and in my top five, and I give two others this season a ten, with three others 9.5, one finished a 9.0.

  • Andrew,

    Ah, very true. I’d forgotten. :)

    I think I’m just getting stir crazy, waiting for the final episodes. ;) Which is insane, because all I’ll be left with is the even more unbearable wait for Season 5.

    Time to unplug a bit on the morrow, I think. ;)

  • Andrew,

    Yep I saw that, it’s just the children sounds like the closing credits, and LS wouldn’t end with that music in the credits, it would be more chilling. It may not be closing credits, which is plausible. I don’t see LS being placed before any final scenes, it wouldn’t have the impact, but I could see a post credit sequence, which would be really awesome.

    Awesome WW/CoF scene…closing credits…LS sequences (2 minutes) then cut. Casual viewers will be like WTF, trying to comprehend after the shock.

  • I went ahead and allowed myself a listen at the 30 second sample for “The Children” and it definitely sounds like end credit music – but it could follow anything, really. It has a children’s choir, but I could easily see it following any number of scenes for the season’s ending.

    Just have to wait and see. :)

  • My buddy just watched 38 episodes of GOT and now has to wait for 4.09. He has some crazy theories I’ll probably talk about later. It’s hilarious. But he’s viewer number 18.4 million and 1!

  • John M W,

    “The Children” theme could, imo, only fit for two scenes of the finale :

    - Jon elected Lord Commander.
    – Arya setting sail for Braavos.

    It is a very uplifting theme and apart from these two moments, I dont see where else it could fit.

  • The ending song does seem strange, and based on other season’s closing songs (excluding last year’s “For The Realm”) it will end on that song. But it does seem very dumb to freak out about a speculated ending scene and song based solely on 30 seconds of a preview soundtrack heard out of context. So we’ll see, but I’m keeping my hopes high no matter how the season ends.

  • In the books Pyp was there to show how Jon’s leadership responsibilities alienate him from his friends. With Sam leaving for Oldtown, only Dolorous Edd will be left. I really hope he doesn’t die. To kill the wisecracker and the loveable oaf in one go would just be cruel. With a much smaller cast the show shouldn’t have to force in more deaths of supporting characters than the books.

  • I think we’ll get LS, but not this season. Lena only recently posted that spoiler on instagram… about in the timeline with her getting scripts for next season. They’re supposed to begin filming soon. When you think about the sheer amount of stuff that has to happen in the finale (even with extended time), you just realize it isn’t possible

    Some Stannis / Jon / etc. wall exposition and post fight wrap-up


    Tyrion escape from cell, talk with Jaime, Varys, killing his dad and Shae (btw — looks like theyre not going to explain Shae ending up w/ Tywin in show either. It just will be)


    Danerys stuff, whatever it ends up being.


    Qyburn and the Mountain have a confirmed scene


    Brienne and Pod will have something — Brienne has yet to bite off anybody’s ear.


    Arya and the Hound — somehow, their situation at the Bloody Gate has to be resolved, Hound has to die (or almost or whatever), and Arya has to have a goodbye, leave him and find a Braavosi boat (Braavosi captain confirmed role)


    And then Bran, the children of the forest (Leaf confirmed) and the Three-Eyed Raven. And apparently the most expensive CGI shot ever, which is going to involve white walkers and everything going nuts, or something. Have to imagine this huuuge introduction will take a lot of time


    And that’s not even to mention if there’s a Cersei scene (of course that could and probably will be the Qyburn Mountain scene) or some exposition about Oberyn’s death and Dorne. Or a Greyjoy scene fit in somewhere.


    But Gods its gonna be a great episode.

  • I do not believe they would finish with Dany scene again and with very similar theme song. No reason to freak about it, Dany songs are always excellent so it is easy to imagine them being used for season ending.

    I bet season finisher scene is LSH, song used for closing could be The North Remembers. Outkeeper could be used for the revelation, but The North Remembers is suitable to roll over credits.

  • Tyrion Pimpslap,

    That sounds right! And the name is very appropriate especially if the scene is a meeting between two characters rather than the normal ASOS epilogue. I don’t remember that track from 404…

  • GeekFurious,

    Did he binge watch – just curious how long it took him as I am planning a marathon of er watching all eps. Is he now another GoT junkie?

  • I think track #13 is wrong. Sounds more like “The North Remembers” that tune played on season 2 episode 1 when Robb is setting camp and talks to Jaimie. Which I think will be used for Rickon or LS
    #14 fits more like “You are not my son” Tyrion
    #17 is for sure Jon and Ygritte
    #19 “He is lost” is Bran and WW
    #20. Is when Arya departures
    #21. Is Sansa
    #22. ?

  • The North Remembers sounds a lot like the track that plays while Catelyn was giving her Jon monologue in Season 3.

  • Bob Miller:
    Guess who’s popped up in this little snippet for upcoming episode – see 13 secs (bottom left)? http://www.hbo.com/game-of-thrones#/game-of-thrones/episodes/4/39-the-watchers-on-the-wall/video/preview.html/eNrjcmbO0CzLTEnNd8xLzKksyUx2zs8rSa0oUc-PSYEJBSSmp-ol5qYy5zMXsjGyMXIyMrJJJ5aW5BfkJFbalhSVpgIAXbkXOA==

    What shot are you talking about ? The mammoth in the forest ? The army of wildlings ? Thorne giving his speech ?

    I see nothing new in these shots, personally.

  • Bob Miller,

    Lucky bastard ! ;)

    Must have been such an exhausting shooting !

    I’ve worked on battle on screen, but it was always very low budget and no more than two / three days of shooting to get something passable.

    This is on a such different scale ! I envy you to have had the opportunity to work around so many professionals and talented artists !

  • Bob Miller,

    It’s great that you’ve come by here. Would you answer us some production questions once the episode’s aired and the info you know no longer counts as spoilers?

  • Tyrion Pimpslap:
    Josla,

    He’s shown in one of the trailers trying to fend off a giant in the tunnel.

    I see… hopefully he’ll survive. They can’t kill every single character for God’s sake!!! I’m not sure but I think I saw more men in the tunnel as well. I’m holding my breath and praying the giant kills those and then Grenn kills him, unharmed… :'( I want to cry…

  • I swear to god Oathkeeper sounds perfect for Lady Stoneheart. She don’t speak… but she remembers…. WHY IS EPISODE 10 2 WEEKS AWAY *cries*

  • Interior Bannisters,

    What else could it be? I have to watch episode 404 again just to make sure we haven’t heard the track yet. I’m fairly certain we haven’t, and that this is the one. HBO deceptively named it after episode 4 and shoved it into the middle of the track list, but that has to be the one.

  • HARmundGiantsbane:
    HAR! My episode is going to be thrice the size of Blackwater!

    And that’s thrice Blackwater size, after they decided to cut half of the special effects! One can only assume how big your ep would have been originally.

    Also:
    I LOVE YOU TORMUND GIANSBANE! (With all you titles included)

  • Polish: And that’s not even to mention if there’s a Cersei scene (of course that could and probably will be the Qyburn Mountain scene) or some exposition about Oberyn’s death and Dorne. Or a Greyjoy scene fit in somewhere.

    But Gods its gonna be a great episode.

    There was a scene in the first trailer for this season, where Cersei says, “You’ll fight over him like beasts until you tear him apart. I will burn our house to the ground before I let that happen.” (presumably about Tommen)
    I don’t remember that happening at all yet, so that’ll probably be in episode 10 as well.

  • That’s insane. Blackwater is my favorite episode of the whole show!

    Turncloak:
    So my friend just saw the Blackwater episode. Here’s our convo.

    Her: why do you like chp 9?
    Me: Episode 9 is the battle of Blackwater bay
    Her: Yea
    Me: It’s one of the best in the series. And it takes place all in one location.
    Me again: Great speech by Tyrion as well
    Her: They win
    Me: Really great performances all around
    Her: Yea I don’t like this episode

    For fu** sake lol

  • Polish: I think we’ll get LS, but not this season. Lena only recently posted that spoiler on instagram… about in the timeline with her getting scripts for next season. They’re supposed to begin filming soon. When you think about the sheer amount of stuff that has to happen in the finale (even with extended time), you just realize it isn’t possible

    Some Stannis / Jon / etc. wall exposition and post fight wrap-up

    Tyrion escape from cell, talk with Jaime, Varys, killing his dad and Shae (btw — looks like theyre not going to explain Shae ending up w/ Tywin in show either. It just will be)

    Danerys stuff, whatever it ends up being.

    Qyburn and the Mountain have a confirmed scene

    Brienne and Pod will have something — Brienne has yet to bite off anybody’s ear.

    Arya and the Hound — somehow, their situation at the Bloody Gate has to be resolved, Hound has to die (or almost or whatever), and Arya has to have a goodbye, leave him and find a Braavosi boat (Braavosi captain confirmed role)

    And then Bran, the children of the forest (Leaf confirmed) and the Three-Eyed Raven. And apparently the most expensive CGI shot ever, which is going to involve white walkers and everything going nuts, or something. Have to imagine this huuuge introduction will take a lot of time

    And that’s not even to mention if there’s a Cersei scene (of course that could and probably will be the Qyburn Mountain scene) or some exposition about Oberyn’s death and Dorne. Or a Greyjoy scene fit in somewhere.

    But Gods its gonna be a great episode.

    *brains explode*

  • Polish,
    Daniellica,

    I swear if they have all that stuff in one episode, I’ll probably die of happiness. I just can’t imagine how they’re going to do it all though. But that’s why they’re the showrunners and I am a humble fan. These last two weeks are really dragging by…

  • Im really excited to see if Melisandre will be making an appearance in this episode, seen as Stannis is gonna be there and we know from the books that she is going with him Theres a shot in one of this season trailers of her looking into the flames that we havent seen yet and she looks like shes at the wall Maybe it will have something o do with her storyline involving Shireen ??